Dylan Hartley will not feature in Northampton's Aviva Premiership semi final with Leicester as he continues to struggle with a shoulder injury.
Hartley has been sideline since fracturing his shoulder against the Tigers in March, but he was hoping to return in time for Friday night's clash.
The England hooker has been advised against rushing back, and told to rest, ahead of a clustered schedule of important games. Hartley told The Guardian: "I was hoping to play this week so my comeback is a matter of days.
"There is no point in coming back too early with big games ahead. We have booked one final and we will know this weekend whether we have another one. Further down the line is the England tour."
Leicester have not failed to reach the Premiership final in their last nine attempts. But if Northampton bring that run to an end at Franklin's Garden's, the Saints will play either Saracens or Harlequins in the final at Twickenham on May 31.
The Saints also have an Amlin Challenge Cup final to look forward to. They will play Bath at Cardiff Arms Park on May 23.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster will hope that Hartley returns to full fitness in time for the three-test tour of New Zealand, as England face a serious hooker shortage.
Hookers Rob Webber and David Paice continue to struggle with injuries and Tom Youngs has pulled out of the tour due to family commitments.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: https://gms.to/1a2u3KU
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms